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Top Five Brooklyn Happenings

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Brooklyn has long held a spot in the independent music firmament. In November 2009, New York Magazine anointed it the capital of the music scene with bands such as the Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, and Animal Collective having sprung to the limelight from the borough.

A number of happenings in the classical world are establishing and reinvigorating Kings County music scene as well. Music labels, symphonies, operas and experimental venues are growing alongside the indie scene. Here are the top five storylines we are following in Brooklyn.

1. Alan Pierson to helm the Brooklyn Philharmonic. The artistic director and conductor of the new music collective Alarm Will Sound became artistic director this month to much fanfare. Already he has infused a renewed energy and excitement around the ensemble, which had to practically cancel its last two seasons, not seen in years. Already the organization is planning new music series to take advantage of Pierson’s cross-genre expertise.

2. Issue Project Room’s new space. In 2008, the experimental arts organization and incubator currently housed in the old American Can Factory was awarded a lease on a performance space at 110 Livingston – within close walking distance of the Atlantic Avenue subway stops. Last spring, the organization held a marathon of a first concert in the space with Morton Feldman’s 6-hour String Quartet No. 2. With its first benefit there this spring, IPR comes another step closer in making the McKim, Mead and White-designed space its permanent home.

3. Roulette’s new space. Meanwhile, another experimental music and arts presenter, Roulette, is jumping across the East River to the former YWCA space in Downtown Brooklyn. The group hopes to open in the restored 600-plus-seat theater (roughly nine times bigger than the Soho loft where it was founded 32-years ago), in July 2011.

4. Naxos to release Cantaloupe catalogue. The Brooklyn-based recording label founded by the Bang on a Can contemporary music trinity of Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe, announced in December that it will partner with Naxos to release the complete Cantaloupe catalogue (including previously web-only releases) as well as distribute the recordings globally. Suddenly, Cantaloupe’s mission to provide “music that slips between the cracks,” won’t slip through the cracks as easily.

5. Robert Lepage to BAM. The heralded director of the Metropolitan Opera’s Damnation of Faust and new Ring cycle ran into a few snafus this season with his hulking design. However, his production of Stravinsky’s Nightingale and Other Fables for the Canadian Opera Company has already been audience- and critic-tested. The production, which comes to BAM in March and includes the US premier of the opera, could be Lepage’s biggest success in New York. The COC has received rave reviews in its three previous incarnations: Toronto, Aix-en-Provence, and Lyon.